Richard Harden's Reviews > State of Denial

State of Denial by Bob Woodward
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's review
Oct 13, 2010

it was ok
Read in October, 2010

** spoiler alert ** I find this book somewhat difficult to evaluate. The only other book of Woodward's I had previously read was All the President's Men. Based on that, I expected this to be an exposé on the hidden reasons behind Bush's decision to invade Iraq, as well as a catalogue of all the things that he did wrong.

What I found instead, was a narrative that at times was difficult to follow. Although the title and the penultimate sentence of the book refer to a denial of the truth about the Iraq War, I found it somewhat difficult to substantiate that assessment given the evidence presented.

Nor was there a great deal of evidence that Dick Cheney was the emperor behind the puppet, so to speak. In fact, the true antagonist of the book appears to be Don Rumsfeld, presented here as being an egotistical, micromanaging tyrant whose personal neuroses single-handedly overturned the entire post-war period from what might have been a successful endeavor to a morass of entanglement with no end in sight.

Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell appear to be the two senior members of the administration who have a sense of what needs to be done, although the latter is portrayed as having been unfairly pushed out of power by an increasingly incompetent cadre of other senior leaders.

Throughout the book, George Bush seems to have two major influences on the war. The first being his embarrassment that his father had not finished the job by marching to Baghdad when he had the chance. This embarrassment seems to be one of the driving reasons for the invasion, according to this portrayal. The second of Bush's roles in the war seems, here, to have been his complete lack of interest in the conduct of the war once he declared victory. This lack of interest is, in turn, what led Rumsfeld to have so much power.

While I am not a fan of George W. Bush, or Dick Cheney, or Don Rumsfeld, and while I do believe they led us unjustly and unrightly into a war we had no business fighting, I do not find the evidence presented in this book to be convincing that the major players were as one-sided and shallow as they seem to be. And while I do find Woodward's final assessment that "With all Bush's upbeat talk and optimism, he had not told the American public the truth about what Iraq had become." to be believable, I do not feel he did a good enough job at tying all the threads together in this book.

Overall, this book is informative, but not one that appears to hold up to scrutiny of the logical deductions made in it.

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